Navigate Forward


Eric Harkins


Eric Harkins is a seasoned leader with a broad background in both Operations and Human Resources for Retail and Healthcare Fortune 500, Family Owned Manufacturing, and Entrepreneurial Technology companies. He began his career at Target Corporation, and lived in Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, and California his first six years after graduation, each time moving for various promotions. He currently serves as President of Navigate Forward, joining the firm in the fall of 2015. In addition to his role at Navigate Forward, he is a member of the Board of Directors for HREF: Human Resources Executive Forum, an organization serving senior level HR Executives in Minnesota.  Eric enjoys speaking engagements and is often asked to share his approach on leadership, culture, and creating an engaged workforce.

As a Store Operations leader, he helped open the fourth SuperTarget ever built in Mason City, Iowa, and was responsible for the grand opening of a new Kohl’s Department store in Louisville, Colorado.  Making the leap from Store Management to Human Resources, he spent several years with the Mervyn’s division of Target Corporation and ultimately became Director of Stores Human Resources. He’s been Chief Human Resources Officer at Jack Link’s Beef Jerky and The Nerdery – a custom software design and development company based in Minneapolis. With a unique approach to HR, Eric challenged leaders to focus on talent every day, believing that a company really is only as good as their weakest employee.

Eric is known for his never ending energy and enthusiasm, and positive outlook. With a great sense of humor, and an ability to make fun of himself fairly easily, you’ll find a sign above his desk that says: “Do What Makes You Happy”, his personal philosophy for work and life. People are often struck by his ability to build relationships quickly, with a curiosity and genuine interest in meeting new people and learning their story. His passion for helping people make new connections and finding a new opportunity that they are excited about led him to his current role, which he calls his “dream job”.

When Eric isn’t meeting new people and working with clients, you’ll likely find him spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and his children Laurynn and Jack.  Not too long ago Eric and his family joined a karate studio, initially as a fun family activity. A few years later all four of them became black-belts on the same day. He likes to say that he, his wife and daughter “retired” shortly after, but his son is now a third degree black-belt and competes in tournaments across the Country. When he’s not watching his son practice karate, you might find Eric golfing with his daughter or watching her in the High School band.

When he has time to sneak away, there’s a good chance you’ll find Eric visiting his family cabin in NW Wisconsin, a part of the country he believes is as beautiful as anywhere he’s been.  He enjoys cooking and grilling, and loves to experiment with new recipes whenever he has time. A great day would be one spent with his family, and sharing a meal that he prepared.

Eric feels his work at Navigate Forward will be his best yet.